Mason is an entrepreneur on a mission. Two to three times a month he sets up shop at local markets and community events and sells his homemade flavored popcorn. Caramel, caramel apple, mac and cheese, watermelon, and party on the beach, each bag of carefully crafted goodies brings delight to the consumers who munch it as well as a healthy checkbook balance to his business, Mason’s Market NC. But here’s what sets this entrepreneur apart from most: Mason is only 12 years old and he gives away his profits.
Rather than spare Mason from the social inequalities around him, his parents, Melissa and Tony, encouraged him to find a way to “do something good for somebody else.” In July of 2015, Melissa handed then nine-year-old Mason fifty dollars and he found a creative way to use it to help other children in his community who had less than he did. He made popcorn to sell so that he could buy Christmas gifts for other kids, “because not everyone is able to have Christmas,” Mason says.
Since popping that first kernel of corn three years ago, Mason’s efforts have helped buy Christmas presents for nearly 90 children in Brunswick County. “The first year his popcorn sales provided Christmas gifts for 21 kids, this year, he was able to help sixty-five,” says Melissa Marshall, Mason’s mom. Mason, who buys the gifts himself, was able to give kids most of the items on their wish lists including bikes, and food baskets. “Everyone also got clothes and books and stockings,” says Mason. Mason’s Market determines eligibility through an application process.
Not only is Mason dedicated to buying Christmas gifts for children in need, he is also committed to giving back to local schools and other community organizations. Each year he chooses a school in the area to donate money for supplies, including computers. He also pays off lunch debts so kids can have hot meals at school. In addition to a school, Mason chooses an organization to help support. This year it’s the Boys and Girls Club of North Carolina.
For Mason, knowing he’s helping his peers find joy on Christmas or have a hot meal without worrying how to pay for it, makes him “feel good.” But he isn’t looking for the recognition. In fact, the children who benefit from of his generosity don’t even know he has a hand in it. “Their parents come and pick [the gifts] up, so they think Santa came to their homes,” says Mason.
In addition to selling his popcorn at local markets this summer, Mason is excited to be part of the first Building Brunsco Kids Expo, a new event by the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce this coming August. The Expo highlights young entrepreneurs in the area, ages 7 to 18, and gives them an opportunity to learn what it takes to own a business. Participants will learn how to develop and market their products or services, and use math, communication, and creative thinking skills to increase their sales. The Expo will be held Saturday, August 25, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Three years ago Mason started out with 50 dollars, an idea, and 8 flavors of popcorn. Today, he has over 45 flavors and has helped dozens of children in need; work this budding entrepreneur plans to continue until he goes off to college.
For more information on Mason’s Market NC, his events, or to buy some of his fabulous popcorn, visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/masonsmarketnc/.